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Microsoft

+ - Microsoft's Surface Could Kill HP, Dell, Other PC OEMs->

Submitted by
MojoKid
MojoKid writes "Microsoft's Surface isn't just an attempt to take on the iPad or an articulation of MS's independent design philosophy — it's a fundamental threat against the OEMs who've spent decades as Microsoft's partners and collectively destroyed the industry's perception of the PC as a high-value product. The adversarial roots run deep. Microsoft didn't tell its partners about Surface until three days before the event and gave only the most minimal details on the product. Only the largest vendors even got a phone call; Asus and Acer, the 4th and 5th largest PC manufacturers worldwide, have stated that they had no idea anything was coming. For OEMs who have spent decades working in lock-step with Redmond, that's deeply unsettling. If Surface heats up, other OEMs have two stark options. They can continue their race-to-bottom, devouring each other in consolidations and acquisitions until only the brand names are left and every PC component and system has been outsourced to Malaysia — or they can start building names for themselves as innovators."
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Comment: Re:does Steam work under firewalls that most schoo (Score 1) 83

by notjustchalk (#40401861) Attached to: Valve Unveils Steam For Schools, Portal In the Classroom

YMMV, but as an IT-admin turned teacher, I can tell you in my neck-o-the-woods, the lockdowns are simple AD policies for Windows and a rather crummy 3rd party AV/FW combo. So, it's really just as easy as getting central admin to whitelist a few more executables and IP addresses (which may not even be necessary as I'm fairly sure this is not going to be an "always online" type Steam app). This won't be a problem IT-wise, but without a strong IT person onsite it may become a "convenience" issue (ie. central admin may not want to deal with support).

Comment: Re:Unless the school uses Linux of course (Score 1) 83

by notjustchalk (#40401627) Attached to: Valve Unveils Steam For Schools, Portal In the Classroom

Oh come on, seriously? The vast majority of schools are still using some flavor of Windows. I am as gung-ho about Linux as your average /. reader, but even I can see the benefits of this coming out now rather than waiting for the Linux port (which I am waiting eagerly for). Beyond just that, most large school boards run locked down MS desktops which are centrally managed - you think that's going to change anytime soon?

Comment: As a teacher, I say Kudos to Valve! (Score 5, Informative) 83

by notjustchalk (#40401599) Attached to: Valve Unveils Steam For Schools, Portal In the Classroom

Here's the actual site that Valve has published regarding this particular effort:
http://www.teachwithportals.com/

A few things not quite clear in TFA:
1) These are not retail versions of Steam nor Portal 2:
1a) As mentioned, it is a locked down version of Steam called Steam for Schools. Only one application is available right now:
1b) A modified version of Portal called Portal 2 Puzzle Maker which takes most of the concepts in the game but makes it more interactable (i.e. here's a room, here's a pallette of tools, here's what you need to figure out or do...) - a game design tool more than a game.
2) For the teachers among us (me included), they've already collected a number of lesson plans for both Physics and Math curriculums. They're both tending to higher grades (ie 9-12) right now (e.g. parabaloid motion, harmonic oscillation, gravity, spatial geometry/volumes, etc) which makes sense, however, I've only taken a cursory glance as I'm supposed to be marking exams right now... (oops). They're also accepting lesson plans, etc.
3) It looks like they're aiming to extend lessons into the Chemistry, Game Design, Language Arts, and more categories - color me excited as I'm a Chem teacher!

It's unfortunate I'm only finding out about this right now as it's pretty close to the end of the school year, but I supposed the summer is a good time to play with it and figure out how to integrate it into the classroom. For those who are already getting steamed re: "they should be buying textbooks, etc", I have to say that computing resources are already in schools and to a large part being wasted on Facebook and flash games for the most part - this is just another tool to enrich courses and make the curriculum come alive. Oh, and for those that would rather us teachers "take our students outside to learn about physics", I challenge you to a) take more than 5 kids outside and try to keep a lesson run coherently with all the sundry distractions and b) try to do it in the middle of winter.

Kudos to Valve for willing to venture into this territory! Now, let's just get that Linux port finished already okay...? :)

Comment: Re:Ok (Score 4, Insightful) 251

by notjustchalk (#35993896) Attached to: Sony: 10 Million Credit Cards May Have Been Exposed

Why does everybody collect and store all these data centrally?

Because "paying for stuff" isn't the only reason Sony collects your data. There's also advertising (especially targeted/predictive), data mining, data sharing (both internally and externally), tracking/trending, etc. I think that data is a lot more valuable sitting on their servers than it is hidden in your console - hence, whatever the cost, it will remain there. That really goes for any internet aware service, not just Sony/PSN.

Hardware

+ - Hands-on with the iPad alternatives->

Submitted by Barence
Barence (1228440) writes "This week's IFA show has seen a flurry of Android-based alternatives to the iPad emerge from leading manufacturers. The Samsung Galaxy Tab made a strong first impression on PC Pro's reviewer. The 7in tablet's TFT screen "beams forth with rich, saturated colours and wide, wide viewing angles", the device is capable of Full HD playback and the TouchWiz UI is "clearly intended to draw customers away from the iFamily". Elsewhere, ViewSonic has launched a pair of 7in and 10in tablets, the larger of which dual boots into either Android or Windows 7. "Our first moments with Windows 7 were surprisingly painless, too: we expected the Atom processor and 1GB of memory to be horrendously sluggish, but it wasn’t the case," PC Pro reports. Finally, Toshiba's 10.1in Folio 100 marries Android 2.2 with Nvidia's Tegra 2 platform to deliver "mighty graphics crunching power". The build quality left a little to desire, though. "The 14mm thick chassis feels lightweight, and even relatively gentle twisting motions left the Folio’s plastic body creaking under the stress.""
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+ - Transition Metal Catalysts : Key to Origin of Life

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "One of the big, unsolved problems in explaining how life arose on Earth is a chicken-and-egg paradox: How could the basic biochemicals—such as amino acids and nucleotides—have arisen before the biological catalysts (proteins or ribozymes) existed to carry out their formation? In a paper appearing in the current issue of The Biological Bulletin, scientists propose that a third type of catalyst could have jumpstarted metabolism and life itself, deep in hydrothermal ocean vents."

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